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19 Jan 2004 : Column 1088W—continued


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what quantity of land in the Thames Gateway needs to be re-allocated from employment uses to housing or mixed use to meet the Government's aspirations for delivering 120,000 additional houses by 2016. [149185]

Yvette Cooper: The figure of 120,000 is drawn from discussions on development capacity with local planning partners during the preparation of the Gateway initiative, and reflects both existing planning allocations for development and local perspectives on further capacity. Work is now under way with Regional

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Planning Bodies to agree the detailed distribution of this growth, and prepare for its incorporation into Regional Strategic Statements.

Development in the Gateway focuses on its substantial reservoir of redundant and brownfield land, most of which will have originally been used historically for industrial and employment use. However, economic renewal is a parallel priority for the Gateway in order both to provide a stronger economic base for existing communities, and meet the employment needs of new residents. The area remains an important industrial and commercial location in the South East, and collectively the Gateway ports are the largest in the country. Retention and renewal of appropriate and good quality employment land to meet the needs of the local economy therefore remains important. The planning exercise now under way will therefore also be taking into account the appropriate future balance of housing and employment land.

Housing (Chorley)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many planning applications for housing in Chorley have been approved in each of the last five years. [148223]

Yvette Cooper: The number of planning applications for housing in the borough of Chorley approved in each of the last five years is as follows:

Applications approved
Total (January 1999 to December 2003)356

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much land has been allocated for the next 10 years for new housing in Chorley. [148224]

Yvette Cooper: The adopted Chorley borough Local Plan Review allocates 100 hectares of land for housing for the period up to 2006. This figure excludes the former Royal Ordnance Factory site at Euxton, which is also expected to contribute 500 dwellings during the plan period, on the part of the site lying within Chorley borough.

Upon commencement of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill, Chorley borough council will be required to prepare a Local Development Framework to replace the Local Plan Review. In doing so the council should have regard to the annualised rates of average housing provision set out in Regional Planning Guidance for the North West, as applied by the emerging Lancashire Structure Plan. That currently proposes an annual rate of housing provision for Chorley in the period 2006–16 of 210 dwellings per year, net of clearance.

Housing (North Yorkshire)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent representations he has received on affordable housing in North Yorkshire. [147208]

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Yvette Cooper: In 2003, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister received correspondence from the hon. Member and from Mr. Peter Annison, Chair of the Richmondshire Local Strategic Partnership, about affordable housing in North Yorkshire. Affordable housing in North Yorkshire featured in comments on the draft regional housing strategy in Spring last year, and is an issue identified in the sub-region's local authorities' housing strategies. The subject also features in Government Office discussions with North Yorkshire housing authorities, and the Government Office has received representations about funding for a project developed by Esk Moors Action for the Elderly. The North Yorkshire Housing Forum has submitted to the Regional Housing Board three proposals for different types of affordable housing for funding through the Board's 'transformational proposals' commissioning strand, for schemes to start in 2005–06.

Housing Strategies

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on how older people are involved in planning for housing strategies; and if he will make a statement. [148237]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not commissioned any research on the involvement of older people in planning for housing strategies. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will, however, be supporting the work of the Housing for Older People Development Group (HOPDev), which will be examining older people's involvement in housing strategies as part of its programme of work for the coming year.

Local Authority Housing

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he intends to take to ensure that council tenants are given information on the case for and against the large scale voluntary transfer of council housing proposed by North East Lincolnshire council. [148067]

Yvette Cooper: Tenants should be involved from the outset in the consideration of stock options and have a central role in deciding which option is pursued. To assist tenants in this the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister expects them to have access to good independent advice from the start.

Where housing transfer is the chosen option, the local authority should ensure that the information provided to tenants during the consultation process gives a full, fair and balanced picture of the implications of the proposed transfer as compared with staying with the council, so they can demonstrate that tenants have been properly consulted and informed.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how he intends to ensure that his undertaking to London council tenants on 27 November 2003 regarding the information to be given to tenants about the implications of stock transfer or the creation of arm's length management organisations is implemented in the light of the decision by Mr. Justice Munby in case CO/6212/2003. [148068]

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Yvette Cooper: The Communities Plan published in February 2003 made clear that council tenants must be fully informed and consulted at all stages in the process of appraising, choosing and implementing options for the future management and improvement of their homes. Tenants will have the support of Independent Tenant Advisers in this process. Effective tenant engagement is a key test for signing off the results of option appraisals and for giving approval for councils to implement these results. The information made available for tenants by their council and others at each stage should be sufficient to enable tenants to express an informed opinion.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many council houses were sold in each year since 1980; and how many houses were left in local authority ownership each year. [148279]

Yvette Cooper: The figures available for England are tabled as follows:


Council house sales
Right-to-BuyLSVTOther salesLA rented stock estimates(46)

(46) Up to 1988–89 stock data at 31 December, thereafter at 31 March.

Local Government (Employment)

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the change has been in the number of local government employees since 1997. [148443]

Phil Hope: Figures for Great Britain, which are available in an article published in 'Economic Trends' (September 2003), show that between 1997 and 2002 there was an increase of 148,000 in the total general local government employment category.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what asssessment he has made of the report by Professors Blanchflower and Oswald on Calculating an Appropriate Regional Funding Adjustment for Worcestershire, commissioned by Worcestershire county council; and if he will make a statement. [148037]

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Mr. Raynsford: The Government will carefully consider the points made in Worcestershire county council's response to the consultation on the provisional local government finance settlement, alongside all others, as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister takes the final decisions on the settlement.

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